Many math.SE users idolize the magic pair of dollar signs that can draw many nice things, including superscripts. Of course, I don’t refute general usefulness of MathJax, but there are several clownages routinely performed with it on this site. One of these clownages is motivated by a belief that the degree sign (°) is a kind of superscripted character. Such typography “masters” chose some round character: either the Latin letter “o”, or the composition sign “∘” encoded with \circ (that bears an insightful connotation), and place it after the superscript command ^. Is it correct or wise?

~~~ A NIST page on non-SI units: ~~~

degree (angle)   °   1° = ($\pi$/180) rad

Nothing about superscripts, you see. Only the U+00B0 symbol.

~~~ A table from the Chicago Manual of Style: ~~~

°   Degree   00B0   \degree

Also nothing about superscripts. Although the table suggests the “\degree” command missing from MathJax, there are no troubles with inserting literal U+00B0 character into a MathJax code; see example below.

Any more references needed, really?

Now let’s compare how it looks:

Plain text:   180°

Under MathJax: $180°$

^\circ clownage: $180^\circ$

IMHO any reasonable person should, by now, conclude that the last variant is the worst-legible one. But indeed, we see some persons from StackExchange who learned that they can draw some resemblance of degree symbol using ASCII cheats, are proud with their “valuable” knowledge, and tend to apply their “fixes” where fixes are already done.

Guys, if you want to fix, then do it, please, where severe mistakes are present or typography is really awful. Don’t stalk my (Incnis Mrsi’s) edits – a random math.SE person has a very slim chance to improve any typography after me. Now, expectedly, “very experienced contributors” and “content quality experts” will pile on with downvotes, whereas I predict that all the mob won’t produce more than one or two (confused and not convincing) objections, verbally, to my arguments.

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deleted by Pedro Tamaroff 8 hours ago

5 upvote
Separate from the fact that I am one of those unreasonable people who prefers the way ^\circ looks, I am downvoting this post because it's a pointless rant. The actual object-level issue (what sort of degree symbol to use) is totally inconsequential, and your complaint that people are "stalking" you has been substantiated by exactly one instance of someone making an edit. If there's actually anyone in particular on some vendetta against you or your degree symbol, ask a moderator to help - complaining to all of us about it solves nothing. –  Zev Chonoles 13 hours ago
5 upvote
@Zev Chonoles: Ī don’t care whether you downvoted it, upvoted, or just passed by. Also Ī don’t know why exactly people make silly things: because of genuine obscurantism, or try to emphasize their importance as community members. “Arguments” contained in two comments met my expectations – a reader without eyesight damage can see that example (allegedly) from Donald Knuth is rendered differently from observed MathJax rendering of the same code. –  Incnis Mrsi 13 hours ago  
2 upvote
That's exactly the way to win people over: say that anyone who disagrees with you is obscurantist, self-aggrandizing, or disabled. It is absolutely impossible to have an honest difference of opinion about what kind of small circle to use. –  Zev Chonoles 13 hours ago
1 upvote
The excerpt contains a question from p.180 and its corresponding answer on p.323. There are copies of this book available online. –  Zev Chonoles 13 hours ago
@Zev Chonoles: by the way, Exercise 18.31 from the same book mentions some “°K” notation, deprecated by standard-making bodies in 1968. So, should we revert to “degrees Kelvin” if Donald Knuth once wrote something alike? –  Incnis Mrsi 13 hours ago  
1 upvote
Donald Knuth is an expert on how to use the language he created. Whether he prefers to write a deprecated °K is irrelevant - the point here is what TeX commands he used. –  Zev Chonoles 13 hours ago
@Zev Chonoles: StackExchange sites use MathJax, a clone of LaTeX that, in turn, is a library running on top of TeX (created by Donald Knuth). Knuth isn’t the supreme authority over LaTeX, and isn’t an authority at all wrt MathJax. –  Incnis Mrsi 13 hours ago  
2 upvote
Well, as long as you've found a way to justify feeling superior to people who use different small circles. I'll go find something better to do now. –  Zev Chonoles 13 hours ago

1 Answer 1

  1. You can rant in the discussion section. words like "clownages" are unnecessay in the question section.
  2. If you feel you are being stalked or mistreated, I'm sure there is a place in Math Overflow to complain about it. It doesn't have anything to do with your question, nor does it add any useful background to your question.
  3. What I found most interesting was the three examples you gave. Personally, I like the MathJax example least. I'm getting old and don't appreciate tiny text.
  4. While we are talking about the three examples, you said "Now lets compare how it looks". I'm sorry, but you were wandering all over the place. To what exactly does "it" refer?
  5. I spent a lot of time learning LaTex and, so far, I find its differences with MathJax annoying. I've had several of my questions edited and, so far, I've appreciated it. I plan on using carat circle from now on and I look forward to seeing what happens.
deleted 8 hours ago
Usage of ^\circ has, at least, an advantage of compatibility with original TeX’s kludges (presumedly developed by Knuth). Why should one invent another cheat command if, for MathJax, we have U+00B0, an obvious and semantically correct solution? –  Incnis Mrsi 12 hours ago